Voluntary Home Visiting Data Book: Assessing Need & Access in California

by Hong Van Pham & Sarah Crow, Next Generation | Strong Families & Early Learning

Voluntary home visiting programs provide critical support to vulnerable children and families in the hopes of setting young children off on a brighter future. Families are paired with trained professionals who provide regular home visits and guidance to parents on a range of topics such as health, early development, and parenting skills.

This report provides county-by-county data on the availability of voluntary home visiting programs in California, as well as several estimates of the need for these programs, in the hopes of providing a helpful tool to policymakers and county-level decision-makers. We highlight five national home visiting models and locally developed models, which capture most children served by home visiting programs in the state.

There are three million children ages birth to five in California and nearly a quarter of them – or over 708,000 children – live in poverty. Using statewide program access and child poverty data, our main findings show high levels of unmet need for home visiting services:

  • About 42,800 California children were served by home visiting programs in 2014. Los Angeles County alone serves nearly half of the children who are receiving home visiting services in California.
  • An overwhelming 94 percent of high-need children in the state do not have access to home visiting programs. In 47 counties, 90 percent or more of children in poverty are not enrolled in a home visiting program.
  • Local models serve the majority of children (58 percent) already enrolled in home visiting programs.Local models operate in 17 counties and reach about 24,600 children.
  • Early Head Start (EHS) is the largest national model serving children and families in California. EHS operates in 42 counties and reaches nearly 8,900 children and pregnant mothers.

The data states plainly that California has yet to prioritize home visiting programs for vulnerable families throughout the state. The vast majority of counties continue to struggle with limited resources and unstable funding to expand these vital services that currently reach only a fraction of high-need families. Bringing these programs to scale requires greater state leadership through committed funding for home visiting, and improved coordination of government agencies and counties.